No matter how many times INEC conducts elections, I‘ll win – Lalong boasts

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Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has declared that no matter the number of times the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), conducts elections in the state, he will win.

He also declared that he was not afraid of the commission’s decision to conduct supplementary elections in the state.

The INEC fixed March 23 for the supplementary elections after declaring the governorship elections in six states inconclusive.

The states are Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa and Plateau.

Speaking to State House correspondents after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the current security situation as well as the preparation for the supplementary elections, Lalong stressed that there was no way he as a sitting governor, would not be able to garner 3,000 votes to make up the 49,000 required by INEC to declare him the winner.

The governor said: “My meeting with the president is the usual briefing; I call it usual because of my passion for peace in the state. It is not about the election; it is about peace –   to ensure we have a very peaceful election. So far so good, we have had very good and peaceful elections. We are coming back for a supplementary election. I will like INEC to conduct a peaceful election and so we will like the security apparatus to be on the ground in the state. That was my briefing to Mr. President.”

Asked if he was panicky about the supplementary elections, Lalong said: “How can I be when all the votes that were cancelled were my votes? These were areas that I won. There was no need for cancellation but then as a lawyer, I still want to comply with the rules; I don’t want to be talking about infringing on the rules when the elections result is very clear.

“They said registered voters were 49,000 but the votes were not up to 20,000 but people were still saying we need 49,000 and I was already on top with 45,000 votes. So we are going to get the 49,000.

“How can you imagine that a sitting governor cannot get 3,000 votes out of 39,000 in an area that I have well dominated for a very long time. So for me, the election is as good as concluded in Plateau State.

“I see it as an opportunity for people whose votes were cancelled to vote. People came and said their votes were cancelled; it is for them to go back and vote and ensure their vote counts this time around. That is why I support that we go back and conduct the election. If they (INEC) like, let them conduct the elections more than once, we will still win.”

The governor insisted that the recent attack and cattle rustling had a political undertone.

According to him, “that was why I said I am concerned about security. Usually, it starts like that; they start rustling and killing cattle and the next thing you will hear is that it is a farmers-herders’ crisis.

“I know that I have addressed that issue for a very long time and the policeares handling the security. So I informed Mr. President that we are on top of the situation because we wouldn’t want that to escalate into farmers – herdsmen crisis. It is not farmers – herdsmen crisis, it is criminals trying to foment trouble after losing elections.”

Asked if he suspected the attack hada political undertone, he replied: “Very well. I always say it has political undertone; why is it happening immediately after elections? It usually happens either before or immediately after elections, why is it like that? It has some political connotation.”

He noted that “the next level I have preached severally is that people are very happy that there will be a continuation of completion of projects and initiation of new projects.

“The civil servants have been crying that if I lose this election, it means they will be owed salaries again. So we want to continue with payment of salaries, gratuities, completion of projects that were started before I came and the ones I have initiated. That is the next level in Plateau State.”

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